Archive for the ‘school’ Category


The High Cost of Botulism

June 23, 2011

The title of this post is mainly there to serve as both an example of the kind of conversations that happen when I spend time around my brothers and also as my attempt to claim the phrase for when I finally start that emo ska punk band (in which I would obviously play the viola).

Anyways, while it already feels like a quite a long time ago (thanks in part to two early morning trips to O’Hare aiport and a fun time hosting an old friend from high school), I figured I should talk a little bit about the awesomeness that was this past weekend.

Brought about Charletta’s long anticipated graduation with a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling, this weekend included both a full complement of my immediate family and the presence of Charletta’s parents.  In other words, it was a grand ole time.  Highlights include hanging out with Jonathan for most of the day on Friday, during which we bought (and ate) fancy cheese, walked around downtown, and finally got drinks at the Signature Lounge.


Jonathan shows off his angelic side

Chicago haze

Chicago summer haze, at it's best

Other really fun times included a celebratory pizza dinner hosted by the Charletta’s parents at a local Italian restaurant and getting to can 8qts of strawberry jam with my Mom.

Charletta's parents in the middle

Charletta's parents are the ones in the middle

Saturday afternoon jam session

Not only is this jam yummy, but it actually set, instead of just forming yummy strawberry sauce

But of course the highlight was getting to see Charletta finish a long (and arduous) life stage called grad school.  Congrats Charletta, welcome to the Masters side of the family!

Jonathan, Tim, Charletta, Mom, Abby and Dad

Charletta and her rockin' robes

*Bonus Shots* A side by side analysis of two champion nappers:

Dad sneaks a quick napLina joins him


Time flies

May 20, 2011

I am not sure how the month of May managed to slip by so quickly, but here we are on the far side of the middle of it and only a week left of school for seniors and another 3 weeks left for the rest of us!  Spring seems to have also finally come to Chicago, after several false starts, the leaves are fully out and my favorite flower – lily of the valley – are in full bloom.  So I figured maybe I should give you all a little update on the past 16 days.

First (the big one) – I had another job interview last week.  It is for a small elementary school, just north of where I live (pretty decent commute) and it went really well.  However I wasn’t going to hold my breath seeing as this was just a screening interview, so I had no idea if I would actually get called back for the real deal.  But last evening I got a very awesome email and lo and behold I have an interview lined up for next Tuesday.  Of course the bolt of excitement this caused was quickly followed by some nerves, because not only is the a panel interview with teachers and staff, but I was told to expect it to go an hour to an hour and a half.  But as I keep telling myself, either end result gives me more practice at this whole job hunt thing.  That said, any positive thoughts you can spare on Tuesday morning around 10am would be greatly appreciated.

Second, I realized I posted on my brother’s birthday and didn’t even mention the fact.  However I did make a Flickr collection of some of my favorite pictures of him.  So you should go check it out.
Too cool for ordinary garbage

Third, my lovely Jess celebrated her 27th birthday with much aplomb and celebratory British applause.  We went out to dinner and then returned to her house for a lovely soiree with good cheese and fun games.  I took pictures, which you can view here.Jess waits to blow out the candles

Fourth, my housemate Sue finally graduated with a Masters in Nursing.  I went to her graduation and baked a cake for her celebration (which I had to miss, due to a prior engagement).  While I haven’t uploaded the cake baking pictures, the graduation pictures are here.

My favorite shot

Fifth – In just a few short hours I will be headed out to Michigan city for the 5th annual girl’s weekend.  Back in 2007, we did this in March (I think) and probably never dreamed that we would be doing with the same (or very similar) group of girls 5 years later.  As my Mom said when I was telling her about this, this is my sisterhood.

Family portrait time

Not pictured include Joanne (frequent attender, but sadly not this year), Katie (our first long distance attender, coming this year!), and many other awesome girlfriends, who while they have never made it for a weekend, are also a part of my sisterhood.


question for my readers (all 17 of you non-spambots)

February 24, 2011

Hey folks, as most of you know I am in that lovely post-graduate job hunt stage of life and as I brush up the resume, write essays about my ideal library, re-learn the art of the cover letter I am left pondering what to do with my social network footprint.  Here at Mennogirl, I have been blogging semi-anonymously* for over 6 years, which in the world of blogland is kind of a long time.  And in the world of libraries, the ability to demonstrate a mastery of blogging, familiarity with tweeting, knowledge of flickr, etc is currently seen as a plus.  Overall this blog is something I am actually kind of proud of, while not every (or even most) posts are written with specific topics in mind, I feel like this blog does a good job of representing the range of personal blogging.  BUT therein lies the rub, this has been and always will be my PERSONAL blog.  While I also have a pretty strict, “don’t blog about work and generally never blog something I wouldn’t say to a person’s face” policy I really don’t know if seeing this blog would be a plus or a minus to potential employers.  In regards to tweeting, I do that under a non-mennogirl name and that has been a bit more of a mix between personal and professional (tweeting was a key part of one of my library classes last spring).  As for Flickr, I also use that primarily personally and as a online back-up for my photographs.  However to access my blog is to gain access to my Flickr account, so my questions about that are linked pretty closely to my questions regarding this blog.

I did maintain a more professional blog for the above mentioned library class, which I am planning on including in my online portfolio, but it was also fairly short-lived (only a semester worth of posts) and may not be a representational of my blogging style.  Anyways so here is the question:

You all read my blog.  Pretend you are a library director of a middle school library, you have received my stellar resume, read my impressive letters of recommendation and are now looking through my online portfolio,  you see a link to my personal blog – Mennogirl and click on it.  Are you impressed? repulsed? frustrated with my lack of professionalism? happy that a potential employee demonstrates such familiarity with social network tools?

*To me semi-anonymously means not using my last name and attempting to keep Mennogirl out of the Google results for my full name.  In other words, it would not be difficult at all for someone to read Mennogirl and figure out who I am, but pretty hard for someone who doesn’t know me to find Mennogirl.


Catch-up Post*

January 14, 2011

So this past weekend was my long awaited Graduation Day! And wow, did the whole weekend ever live up to my expectations. Of course any time my brother and parents come into town, is a pretty good indication that fun will be had by all. But in addition to that I completed Giant Chapter o’ Life, threw (and enjoyed) a great open house, reunited with one of my favorite (and hilarious!) cousins (twice this year already!), saw a friend from Junior High, ate yummy Thai food with said family and generally had a blast.
Here are some pictures to illustrate said weekend:

The exact moment I received my long awaited (and approximately $30,000) diploma

Sadly enough completing my masters was no help in figuring out how to wear the fancy (and not lime green like I had been led to be believe!) hood.

Jonathan of course had other ideas about how I should wear the hood.

But on the bright side, I also got these nifty sleeves on my robe in which I could store things like graduation programs and kleenex (not for being overcome with emotion, but more to do with a runny nose).

Now both my Mom and I both have Masters and with Charletta getting on board in June, that will be women of my family 3, men of my family 0 (but give Jonathan a few years and he will claim first doctorate of the family).

And of course what is graduation weekend without custom-made pirate eye-patches made out of Jonathan's highly additive magnetic ball kit. It should be noted that I promised my Dad not to post this picture on Facebook, but I figured if I through in an equally goofy one of myself I could get away with posting it here 🙂

*now with pictures!


cough, cough, is this thing on?

December 20, 2010

There is no good way to open up a new post after a 20 day unexplained absence, especially when you know you write a personal blog with no discernible theme other than the random debris that floats through ones head.  Let’s just say that I was on blog vacation due to the lack of vacation in my life.  Of course the other problem with this whole “actually writing a post again” thing is that all those half-thought out posts that lingered in my head during the time I was not blogging always disappear leaving me staring at an opening paragraph that is rapidly filling itself with half-apologetic meta stuff.  So let’s cut to the chase –

Since we last talked, I finished up student teaching, wrote a final paper, pulled together a portfolio, and got a job (or at least re-enlisted for my old job at the high school).  So now I am sitting here on “Christmas break” with all but the actual diploma to mark the end of two and half years of grad school.  You would think at the end of this long trek, I would have at least some idea of how I ended up here, but I have to say I look around and think to myself, “So that’s it, I have a masters?”.  Now don’t get me wrong I did learn a lot, experienced a lot and feel much more prepared to actually do the work of a librarian, but as is often the case for me when I look back on my life, I don’t actually feel that much different.  I remember feeling a bit like this after returning from my crazy summer trip of 2007.  Somehow exciting/challenging/new/frustrating/different experiences have a way of feeling a bit like a bubble that as soon as you finally get through one side, pop right back into reality.  That said, I am quite glad to be standing at this end of the papers, classes and endless commuting, than where I was back in September of 2008.


day 22 – Lame Post Monday

November 22, 2010

Today felt much like a vacation day because, due to parent/teacher conferences, I worked 3pm to 9pm, which meant I slept in and generally was able to have a lazy morning.  But the best part of the day was this schedule also allowed me to have a long overdue catch-up coffee with a friend and finally get another business phone call in for Wilderness Wind 25th anniversary planning committee.  Then when I actually got to work I spent the whole evening cutting out ogre feet out of foam board, glueing fake hair on them and generally working on my fantasy series bullitin board.  Tomorrow I should finish that up and hopefully have a picture for you.

But mainly what I am most interested in right now is looking at these great pictures, Tim took during our Labor Day family outing.  Don’t I have the most talented brothers!


day 21 – Photo Sunday and catch-up

November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 (technically SPOILER ALERT, but if you have read the book you won’t find anything surprising about what I am saying)

First of all, I should say I am what you might call a big Harry Potter fan, while I don’t think the books are perfect by any means, they have also been a huge part of my reading for the past 10 years.  I am a part of the Harry Potter generation and therefore my viewpoint on the movie is definitely biased.  That said, I really loved this film!  Going into it I hadn’t heard really great reviews of the movie, many complained about the first part that dragged on and the repetition of the familiar tropes of Harry feeling bad about the people around him dying.  So I didn’t entirely know what to think going into it and I had no idea how they were going to come to a satisfying conclusion half-way through the book.  After seeing the movie, I have come to realization that those very things I was worried about going into the film, turned out to be some of my favorite things about the movie.

First, yes the first part of the movie does drag on for a while, but that is kind of the point.  This is a huge turning point for Harry, Ron and Hermione, no longer are they under the protection of Hogwarts, with the routine and direction it provided.  They are for the first time, really truly on their own and with a gigantic task ahead of them.  No wonder they mope about for a while, unsure of what to do next and so scaried, they are after all still teenagers (and young ones at that).  For the first time I felt like the movie actually gave time to the small quiet moments that helped capture the true heroism of the trio in keeping on going even when no hope or adults stand ready to save them.  This also ties into the idea of the continual theme of Harry being a bit deadly to those around him, I think it was Ron who has this great line in the movie that points out that these people haven’t died FOR Harry or even because of him, they have died for the bigger cause and the bigger fight that Harry is just one part of.  So yes, bad things continue to happen to Harry in this movie, but now in the context of a Voldermort in the flesh and in control of the Ministry of Magic, the fight has become much bigger than just a teenage boy with a scar on his forehead.

Second, I ended up loving the way they choose to end the movie [okay some of this might qualify as SPOILER ALERT], but ending with the heroic effort by Dobby the house elf to rescue his friend Harry Potter from the clutches of Bellatrix Lestrange.  Dobby fulfills his mission, only to be killed by Bellatrix in a final knife throw and he dies in the arms of Harry.  One of the most poignant parts of the book both for its eloquence (Harry honors his friend by burying him by hand) and important in that it gives Harry and his friend a chance to grieve many of the deaths they have already experienced by haven’t had time to remember.  Choosing to end the first part of the movies this way seemed very fitting and I left the theater both satisfied and very excited about July 2011.  All in all, this picture captures my review of the movie.

Baking a Cake

During our 6 hour baking fest yesterday, Becca and I were reminiscing about how much we used to bake together.  We have known each other since we were 10, so that is around 17 years of friendship and a lot of baking!  This was probably our most ambition project yet (at least together, Becca has conquered wedding cakes before!), but I thought it would be fun to bake a cake for our church’s thank you celebration today instead of just buying a half a sheet cake from Sams.  So I found two of my tried and true favorites from over on Smitten Kitchen.  While exhausting, it ended up being so much fun and both Becca and I felt that we work so well together, neither of us could have done it alone.  There are lots of pictures of the process over here, but this is what the finished product looked like in all its homemade charm.  Bonus to anyone who tries to guess how many lbs of butter went into the combined cake and frosting 🙂


My supervising librarian told me to make sure I documented my lessons, so this past friday when I got to run the library and teach 4 classes, the sub took pictures of me.  As you can see I kept the kids in rapt attention with my fascinating lesson on the new and shiny online catalog 🙂  I have to say I kind of love 6th graders, still interested enough that they can get pretty excited by the general concept of learning new things, still craving adult approval and encouragement, and capable of slightly higher orders of thinking than 1st graders.  Overall both of my student teaching experiences have been only helped encourage me in pursuing a career in education.


day 12 – goals for after grad school

November 12, 2010

When I graduate in December, I will have a large upsurge in free time and here are few ideas I have for things to do with my time:

  • sew myself a new dress (this will require both setting up and fixing my sewing machine)
  • date more (I have talked before about online dating, but haven’t tried it much since earlier in the summer, so time to try, try again)
  • take a photography/design/art class
  • read more! (I know it seems like I do this a lot already, but the freedom to read whatever I want in whatever order I want is a little intoxicating)
  • exercise more (I have yet to find a regular way to fit exercise into my life, despite many attempts over the years, but I really like the way I feel afterward and want to feel stronger and be an even better Boundary Waters leader this coming summer, so that is definitely a goal)
  • start the job hunt (okay this is not a fun goal, considering I kind of hate that whole process, but is definitely on my list of things I need to do post graduation)

day 8 – Lame post Monday*

November 8, 2010


Yep, you guessed it, those are 3D paper dragon heads.

So that cutting out a paper dragon head that I mentioned in my post yesterday? Well, this evening I spent over 4 hours glueing that one and two larger versions of the scaly beast together.  On the downside I have dried glue all over my hands and a creak in my back because I was stupid enough to think that sitting on my bed was a good craft location.  On the upside, I am quite caught up on TV shows and have three new friends, Mr. Scary Head, his friend George and their small cousin Imogene.  Soon they will join their good friend Mr. Scary Head Junior in decorating the Fantasy Series book display I am putting together at school.

Sorry this has been such a lame start to the week, but trust me I have at least one awesome post coming up, my Dad has written a guest post!

*Or incredibly nerdy/cool Monday if you are a big fan of paper dragon heads


day 7 – Photo Sunday

November 7, 2010

I took this picture back in the fall of 2004 during my junior year of college and every time I look at it I tend to smile.  This photo represents some of my earliest interest in taking “artistic” photos and obviously in this case that means still life with moldy orange.  I probably thought to myself, “ah the mold is the perfect way of having a representation of the inevitable decay of life” either that or I just liked the colors.  Either way, I like to think I have come a long way since then, but I do still miss that old red leather chair.